A Boring Schedule For LSU In Tiger Stadium
LSU's Tiger Stadium increased its capacity this summer to hold over 120,000 screaming Tigers fans. Regardless, Death Valley will not be roaring as loud this season as it usually does due to the lack of prestigious teams coming to Baton Rouge.
Seriously, being a LSU fan/student I know just how loud Tiger Stadium is capable of getting. But when the game is a blowout, you have the Greek kids leaving after halftime for crying out loud. Unfortunately, we could see a lot of that happening in 2014.
Let's start with looking at the schedule as a whole, then dive into each game.
As usual, LSU will play eight SEC games and four games against non-conference opponents. Out of the six FBS teams LSU plays in Baton Rouge this season (Sam Houston State is an FCS school and the Wisconsin game is in Houston), Alabama is the only team that finished in the AP Top 25 at the end of 2013. The other five teams (UL-Monroe, Mississippi State, New Mexico State, Kentucky and Ole Miss) finished ranked 74th, 47th, 117th, 109th, and 35th, respectively, in USA Today's final rankings. Oh boy. Just how loud do you think Death Valley is going to be when LSU plays two teams that did not even crack the top 100 in the country last year?
The non-conference teams LSU plays at home are bad, real bad. The only team worth anything is Wisconsin in the opener, and that one, as previously mentioned, is in Houston. So the non-conference teams at Baton Rouge will be Sam Houston State, UL Monroe and New Mexico State.
Sam Houston State finished the 2013 season as the No. 14 FCS team in the country, according to Sports Network, at 9-5, including a blowout loss to Texas A&M. Do the Bearkats have a shot against LSU? Of course not, and I am not going to make a case for an upset. No offense to SHSU, but it accepted a good amount of money to get shelled by LSU and that is exactly what is going to happen, making this game snoozer No. 1 for the fans atTiger Stadium.
UL Monroe finished fifth in the Sun Belt Conference last season at 6-6, with a 34-0 loss to Oklahoma and a 70-7 loss to Baylor. LSU gained over 1,500 more yards than ULM last season and averaged more than 13 more points per game as well. ULM also allowed around 5,000 total yards and turned the ball over 23 times. With a more-experienced LSU defense, except at defensive tackle, this game could be a turnover-fest in LSU's favor. It should be a slightly more exciting game than SHSU, but only if LSU can force some turnovers. Regardless, it'll be another easy win for the Tigers and another snoozer for the fans.
Now we take a look at New Mexico State. The Aggies went 2-10 last season with its only victories over Abilene Christian and Idaho. NMSU might give SHSU a good run for "worst team LSU plays" in 2014. It is the worst-ranked FBS team the Tigers play, according to last year's rankings. The Aggies averaged only 21 points and allowed an average of a little over 44 points. The only thing that makes me think they could possibly be more competitive than SHSU is the fact they are in the FBS. Then again, they only won two games all of last season so I am not sure if that makes it any better. The point is that New Mexico State is awful and will be embarrassed in Tiger Stadium in Snoozer No. 3.
Moving on to LSU's conference games against Miss State, Auburn, Florida, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Alabama, Arkansas and Texas A&M. You could argue that the Tigers are playing three of the worst teams at home on that list if you exclude Arkansas.
Mississippi State is a team that a decent amount of professional prognosticators believe is going to surprise the SEC West this fall. ESPN's Jesse Palmer had them finishing ahead of LSU at the end of the season. Now, I obviously think that is ridiculous, but Mississippi State has something on its side — a returning starting quarterback. Dak Prescott is not a quarterback who I would consider to be "good" in the college football world as we know it. If Mississippi State is looking for him to lead this team to victory against an attacking LSU defense, then the Bulldogs will be sadly mistaken. This one will be close than the three non-conference games, but should be an easy victory for the Tigers. Still, it won't be a snoozer for LSU fans.
Kentucky is developing, but to be blunt, I would say the Wildcats are still terrible. The lone bright spots for Kentucky are its defensive ends, Alvin "Bud" Dupree and Za'Darius Smith. Together, they recorded 13 of the Wildcats' 23 total sacks last season. Outside of Dupree and Smith, however, there is not much to be excited about at Kentucky Coach Stoops did manage to grab a commitment from 5-star defensive tackle Matt Elam for this season so the defensive line could be something to watch. Regardless of the talent on the defensive line, Kentucky will not be able to score points on offense so it is praying that its defensive line can at least keep it in games. I don't see LSU getting caught up in a close one this time around. Sorry Kentucky fans, maybe next year.
Ole Miss on the other hand will be riding their quarterback the entire season. Bo Wallace will make or break the Rebels because he is going to be forced to be consistent in order for Ole Miss to be successful. Teams cannot turn over the ball against LSU because the Tigers will make you pay for it. With Danielle Hunter and Jermauria Rasco bringing pressure on the ends and Tre'Davious White and Rashard Robinson locking down the receivers, it could turn into a rough outing for Wallace and the Ole Miss offense.The hope for Ole Miss is that it has 10 starters returning on defense. If LSU can move the ball against that tough defense, though, then I can see LSU pulling this one out relatively easy. This one of the most exciting games of the year.
Alabama finishes the 2014 home schedule in what is obviously the most anticipated game of them all. The Crimson Tide squeaked one out the last time it played in Death Valley, thanks to a dump pass to T.J. Yeldon. I know. I was there. LSU is hoping that this time it can stop the Alabama offense, which will has an unfamiliar face at quarterback in Jacob Coker. The best thing about that for the Tigers is that Coker doesn't have a clue about the relentless push of the LSU pass rush. Coach Lou Saban can tell Coker everything he needs to know heading into this game, but all that goes away once he is under center. If the pass rush can rattle Coker, we could be in for another exciting game in Baton Rouge.
So, except for the final two exciting games at Tiger Stadium this season, it seems that Death Valley will not be rocking as much as usual this fall. I expect the LSU faithful to still do plenty of tailgating so I am sure most of the fans probably will not even care who is out on the field — as long as they get to see the Bayou Bengals do their thing.